Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Philippines *updated*
Lots of photos and news coming in and I’ll update as more becomes available:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the Philippines on a visit to show support for country’s fight against extremists and its efforts to rebuild after three major storms rocked the islands.
Clinton arrived in the capital Manila on Thursday from Singapore and was meeting with top Filipino officials as well as touring U.S.-funded disaster relief projects. Her one-day trip also will focus on countering Muslim extremists who are operating in the country’s south.
Despite years of U.S. military training and assistance, Filipino troops have struggled to contain the militants, who have recently intensified attacks, blowing up bridges, firing mortar shells and setting off roadside bombs.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday vowed support for the Philippine fight against al-Qaida-linked militants and highlighted the U.S. military’s role in helping the country recover from deadly typhoons.
Clinton arrived on a two-day visit after devastating back-to-back storms last month killed nearly 1,000 people in the worst floods and landslides to hit the capital, Manila, and the country’s north in more than 40 years.
Hundreds of U.S. troops on counterterrorism exercises quickly responded with heavy equipment, ships and helicopters, cleaning streets clogged with debris and ferrying food to isolated villages.
“We were very pleased that we can respond quickly with our military assets,” Clinton told reporters. “Filipino and American doctors worked side by side to help thousands of flood victims. We saw our military forces working together to airlift thousands of tons of food, equipment and other vital cargo.”
During a visit to a three-story high school that was heavily damaged during floods in Manila’s Marikina city, Clinton announced an additional $5 million in U.S. aid. She spoke in front of hundreds of screaming students, some waving small U.S. and Philippine flags.
“We were severely devastated. I hope they will look at how much damage was caused,” said Kim Osorio, a senior at Malanday National High School.
She said a U.S.-Philippine military pact that allows the deployment of U.S. troops is an “important expression of our partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”
U.S. troops will continue to provide assistance in the Philippines, Clinton said, pointing to the Visiting Forces Agreement, a cornerstone of military alliance that has been criticized by Philippine left-wing and nationalist forces.
The Philippine Senate recently passed a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to renegotiate the agreement that allows about 600 U.S. troops to train and advise Filipino soldiers battling the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf in the country’s south.
Despite years of U.S. military training and assistance, Filipino troops have struggled to contain the militants, who have recently intensified attacks, blowing up bridges, firing mortar shells and setting off roadside bombs…
Some more photos:
Remarks while touring a book fair:
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are very proud to have so many Filipino Americans. And I’m very proud that our militaries work together, the American military and the military of the Philippines, saving lives and rescuing people, and I am very pleased that we could donate so many supplies.
Today, I am pleased to announce that there will be more than $5 million in new relief funds for the Philippines. (Applause.) This new support will help rebuild schools like this one, construct new classrooms, and provide 300,000 books and desks for 15,000 students. It will also help to repair damaged water and sanitation systems to prevent the spread of disease, and it will help to refurbish clinics to provide medical supplies and assistance.
So it is a great pleasure to be here at your school and to see all of you back in school. I know that if I had come here a week or two ago, it would not have looked like this. And so I thank everyone who worked hard to put this school back in such good shape. I also want to encourage all of the students to take advantage of your education, to study hard, to learn as much as you can learn so that you can help contribute to the future of your country.
So I learned a phrase as I was coming through, and what is that phrase? He’s trying to teach me this phrase.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mabuhay. (Applause.) And now we have officially opened the book fair so all of the teachers can start to get new books for their classrooms and for their students. I thank you for letting me come to your school. I congratulate you on recovering from the flood. And I promise you that the United States of America will always be a friend to the people of the Philippines. (Applause.) God bless you all. Thank you very much. (Applause.)